Do You Know?

Do you know what this day signifies? It is the fortieth day of the Easter season, Ascension Day in the christian church. Today we remember that Jesus died on the cross but that He did not remain in the grave. The third day he rose and on this day He ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of God the Father. We read of the account in the Gospel of Luke, chapter twenty-four, verses forty-four through fifty-three.

And He said unto them,

These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning Me.

Then opened He their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, and said unto them , Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And, Behold, I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.

And He led them out as far as to Bethany, and He lifted up His hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while He blessed them, He was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.

And they worshipped Him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: and were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God.

Oswald Chambers writes in his devotional My Utmost For His Highest:

His cross is the door by which every member of the human race can enter into the life of God; by His Resurrection He has the right to give eternal life to any man, and by His Ascension Our Lord enters heaven and keeps the door open for humanity.

On the Mount of Ascension the Transfiguration is completed. If Jesus had gone to heaven from the Mount of Transfiguration, He would have gone alone; He would have been nothing more to us than a glorious Figure. But He turned His back on the glory, and came down from the Mount to identify Himself with fallen humanity.

The Ascension if the consummation of the Transfiguration. Our Lord does now go back into His primal glory; but He does not go back simply as Son of God; He goes back to God as Son of Man as well as Son of God. There is now freedom of access for anyone straight to the very throne of God by the Ascension of the Son of Man.

Jesus opened the door for all who desire a relationship with God. He provided the bridge that spanned the gulf created by sin. This day is important to the community of faith. There are no Hallmark Cards to mark the day, no public celebrations, no gifts to buy or special meal to prepare, only your heart, mind, and soul focused on what God has done to bring us back to Himself.

Take time to reflect on what this day signifies.

Trusting, Still Trusting

Are you feeling under pressure these days? As this crisis goes on the pressure mounts because we are disconnected from the familiar. Some are unable to work because their work is deemed “nonessential” while others are stretched to the breaking point because they have no relief. We think of those who are working in the medical field but this pandemic has made working in a grocery store hazardous. This is true for others as well.

Uncertainty raises our stress level. We are living in uncertain times. When will everyone return to work? When will the schools reopen? When will we be able to take a trip, visit family, go out without a mask, shake a hand, give a hug? When will we be able to gather together to worship as we choose?

We are blessed with the technology that allows us to visit over the computer, purchase items for delivery, even have contact with our doctor. These things are all helpful. However, over an extended period of time they are not a substitute for personal contact. We need human touch. We need to see the smiles that a mask hides. So we find ourselves under pressure.

The devotional reading from Streams In The Desert for yesterday was very timely. Reminding me that it takes pressure for us to grow as Christians.

Pressed out of measure and pressed to all length;

Pressed so intently it seems, beyond strength;

Pressed in the body and pressed in the soul,

Pressed in the mind till the dark surges roll.

Pressure by foes, and a pressure from friends.

Pressure on pressure, till life nearly ends.

Pressed into knowing no helper but God;

Pressed into loving the staff and the rod.

Pressed into liberty where nothing clings;

Pressed into faith for impossible things.

Pressed into living a life in the Lord,

Pressed into living a Christ-life outpoured.

Grapes can’t become wine unless they are squeezed. Dough is kneaded and baked to become bread. As followers of Christ we are called to be “broken bread and poured out wine.” We will face pressure but Jesus gives us His word in John 16: 33.

These things I have spoken unto you,

that in Me you might have peace.

In the world ye shall have tribulation:

but be of good cheer;

I have overcome the world.

Threescore and Ten

Psalm 90

LORD, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever Thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God.

Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return ye children of men.

For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut sown, and withereth.

For we are consumed by Thine anger, and by Thy wrath are we troubled.

Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance.

For all our days are passed away in Thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

The days of our years are threescore and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

Who knoweth the power of Thineanger? even according to Thy fear, so is Thy wrath.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent Thee concerning Thy servants.

O satisfy us early with Thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

Make us glad according to the days wherein Thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

Let Thy work appear unto Thy servants, and Thy glory unto their children.

And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.

My Bible titles this psalm “God Man’s Refuge In All Ages.” We all need to be reminded of this in these troubled times. God is our refuge and God is our strength. He is with us in this situation. Let us not take our eyes off Him.

Today I finish my sixty-ninth year on this earth and begin the journey through the seventieth year. I have been thinking of the words in the tenth verse: The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off and we fly away.

So as I approach this birthday I thought of all God has blessed me with. I thought of what I have done with those blessings. I thought also of wasted opportunities; things I should have done and did not; things I should not have done and did anyway. I thought of words I neglected to say and words I should have let remain unspoken. I thought of time wasted on things that really did not matter while I neglected the tasks God had for me to do.

I am so glad that God is patient with me – always!

I will spend every day He leaves me here on this earth serving Him. At this moment I have no idea what that will look like since God has uprooted me once again. But that is a story for another post.

I am thankful this day for sixty-nine years, for blessings beyond measure, and for His mercy and His grace. Thank You, God.

LORD, I may not understand but I trust YOU. I trust in YOUR plan.

I will keep my eyes on YOU and trust You to work out the details.

Christmas Eve 2019

For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. Titus 2:11-14

Tonight we light the center candle, the Christ Candle.

We light this candle as a symbol of God’s mercy and grace.

            For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son,

            that whosoever believeth in him should not perish,

but have everlasting life.

John 3:16

           

In 2005 a mother and daughter wrote a book in rhyme about an elf who watches over the house and reports back to the north pole on who is naughty and who is nice. The Elf on the Shelf mania took off. There are all sorts of little scenes posted on social media featuring this little elf. It amazes me the time and effort people put into this. While the little fellow seems to have amassed a dedicated following there is some controversy. Some just believe it is a marketing strategy designed to get you to spend your money. Others believe it is harmful for parents to use the elf to make their children behave. And still others believe that it indoctrinates the children to accept surveillance. If it is permissible for the elf to spy on you then it should be no problem if your government does it.

I believe that this craze is like any other, it depends on what you do with it. But I do have to wonder about a culture that spends so much time and effort on maintaining a false narrative, be it the elf or the jolly man in the red suit, when we have the greatest story ever told.

On this very special night we celebrate the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. The world needs to hear of the events that took place over two thousand years ago. Not only of His birth, but also the life He lived on this earth, the teaching, the preaching, the miracles He performed, the betrayal, the death on the cross, the resurrection from the tomb. It is the greatest story ever told.

What would this world be like if we spent as much time and effort telling the world of God’s plan of salvation . How Jesus paid the debt for our sin so that restoration of the relationship that was broken in the garden of Eden is made possible through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

Jesus died that we might have life.

The price has been paid.

As the song says:

We’ve a story to tell to the nations,

That shall turn their hearts to the right,

A story of truth and mercy,

A story of peace and light,

A story of peace and light.

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright,

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

So as we light the final candle on the Advent Wreath – the Christ Candle – let us purpose in our hearts to share the good news with those who are still walking in darkness.

The Fourth Sunday Of Advent 2019

We light this candle as a symbol of the Prince of Peace.

May the visitation of Your Holy Spirit, O God, make us ready for the coming of Jesus, our hope and joy.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given:

and the government shall be upon his shoulder:

and his name shall be called

Wonderful,

Counselor,

The mighty God,

The everlasting Father,

The Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end,

upon the throne of David,

and upon his kingdom,

to order it,

and to establish it with judgment

and with justice from henceforth even for ever.

the zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.

Isaiah 10:6-7

All around us there is turmoil. The twenty-four hour news cycle never ceases to inform us of all the trouble in the world. They sprinkle in a few “feel good” human interest stories here and there but for the most part the news is not positive nor uplifting. I have learned to take frequent breaks from the media coverage and that includes social media. For if you listen long enough you will suffer anxiety and stress. There will be no peace.

However, when you turn off the television, the computer, the phone and any other device you might have access to you can decompress.

Keep a regular quiet time, a time apart with God. Read His Word. Meditate on the scriptures. Talk with Him about your day. Listen to hear what He has to tell you. I find that my day goes much better when I take the time early in the morning before I begin my daily schedule.

If you make your time with the Lord a priority you will find the peace that passes all understanding. All around you may be chaos but you can remain anchored in the Lord.

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

In my Father’s house are many mansions:

if it were not so, I would have told you.

I go to prepare a place for you.

And if I go and prepare a place for you,

I will come again, and receive you unto myself;

that where I am, there ye may be also.

John 14:1-3

These words from the gospel of John were spoken as Jesus encouraged his disciples on the night of his betrayal. In spite of what was about to take place Jesus wanted to assure them of his presence always. I find great comfort in his words in verse 27 of that chapter:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you:

not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

As we light the candle of Peace let us remember the Source of our Peace!

JOY!

We awoke to a snow covered landscape this morning. This required the winter apparel for morning chores: two pair of socks, boots, insulated overalls, scarf, hat and gloves to brave the 19 degree weather. But I didn’t mind the cold or the hassle getting ready because the dogs love the snow. Since the advent candle this week was the candle of joy it seemed very appropriate. Watching them romp in the fluffy white stuff brought me joy because they seemed so full of joy themselves.

Just look at that face!

“Come play with me. This stuff is amazing!”

The Third Sunday Of Advent 2019

We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Joy.

May the joyful promise of your presence,

O God, make us rejoice in our hope of salvation.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

And the ransomed of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10

On this third Sunday of Advent I would like to share with you a devotional reading from My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers

My Joy . . . Your Joy

These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. John 15:11

What was the joy that Jesus had? It is an insult to use the word happiness in connection with Jesus Christ. The joy of Jesus was the absolute self-surrender and self-sacrifice of Himself to His Father, the joy of doing that which the Father sent Him to do. “I delight to do Thy will.” Jesus prayed that our joy might go on fulfilling itself until it was the same joy as His. Have I allowed Jesus Christ to introduce His joy to me?

The full flood of my life is not in bodily health, not in external happenings, not in seeing God’s work succeed, but in the perfect understanding of God, and in the communion with Him that Jesus Himself had. The first thing that will hinder this joy is the captious irritation of thinking out circumstances. The cares of this world, said Jesus, will choke God’s word. Before we know where we are, we are caught up in the shows of things. All that God has done for us is the mere threshold; He wants to get us to the place where we will be His witnesses and proclaim Who Jesus is.

Be rightly related to God, find your joy there, and out of you will flow rivers of living water. Be a center for Jesus Christ to pour living water through. Stop being self-conscious, stop being a sanctified prig, and live the life hid with Christ. The life that is rightly related to God is as natural as breathing wherever it goes. The lives that have been of most blessing to you are those who were unconscious of it.

I agree with Mr. Chambers, our task is to be witnesses, to proclaim Christ to the world. How many people have you told about Jesus during these first three weeks of Advent?

There our people all around us who hunger for true joy and they are not finding it because they are looking in the wrong places. Joy isn’t found in the Christmas that is celebrated in most places because Christ is not to be found there. We live in a culture that is becoming openly hostile to Jesus but we must be bold in our proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ or so many will be lost to eternal damnation.

God sent Christ into the world to save the world.

All that was needed, Jesus did.

Salvation declined is like a gift never opened.

Have you opened your gift?

JOY TO THE WORLD! THE LORD IS COME:

LET EARTH RECEIVE HER KING;

LET EVERY HEART PREPARE HIM ROOM,

AND HEAVEN AND NATURE SING.

Second Sunday of Advent 2019

We light this candle as a symbol of Christ the Way.

May the Word sent from God through the prophets lead us to the way of salvation.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:

And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of council and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;

And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:

But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked.

And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins.

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.

And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den.

They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Isaiah 11:1-10

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On this the second Sunday of Advent we remember that Jesus is the only way to restore our broken relationship with God. When Jesus spoke with his disciples in the upper room he said to them:

I am the way, the truth, and the life:

no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

The world will tell you there are many paths to God, but God’s Word – the Holy Bible – makes it plain. There is only one way and that way is Jesus Christ. He left his home in heaven to dwell among us here on earth. He died a cruel death, our death, in order that we might have eternal life with God in heaven.

As Oswald Chambers wrote in My Utmost For His Highest,

There is only one relationship that matters, and that is your personal relationship to a personal Redeemer and Lord.

Let everything else go, but maintain that at all costs, and God will fulfil His purpose through your life.

One individual life may be of priceless value to God‘s purposes, and yours may be that life.

First Sunday of Advent

We light this candle as a symbol of Christ our Hope.

May the light sent from God shine in the darkness to show us the way of salvation.

O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.

And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Romans 13:11-14

Today is the first Sunday of the Advent season. This is a reminder of the hope we have in Jesus Christ. Yes, we remember his birth, God incarnate, but even more so we should remember his promise to return in clouds of glory. He came first as a tiny babe. He lived a simple life. He died a horrible death. Three days later he walked out of the tomb and death was vanquished forever.

Salvation is only possible because of what Jesus did at Calvary. He paid our sin debt. We cannot earn our way. We cannot do enough or be good enough.

God provided the answer to our sin problem. He entered into our world as an infant. Jesus Christ, God made flesh, lived among His people. He experienced life as we know it with all the joy, and all the sorrow.

Only when we see our sin can we see our need for a Savior. The good news is that Jesus has paid the debt we owe. We have only to accept His sacrifice.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be, For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark. And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Matthew 24:36-44

The night is well spent.

The day is at hand.

Are you waiting in anticipation for the Lord’s return?

Is He your HOPE?

An Update To A Lesson In Trust

This is an update on a blog written over two years ago. Ms. Buttons went out with Ms. Pepper last night but never came back. Olin found her this morning on our country road. She had been hit by a vehicle.

She will be missed.

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.                           In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.             Proverbs 3:5-6

In this past week I have been reminded of the importance of trust. And it was a tiny bundle of fur (only 12 ounces) who brought the lesson home to me in a personal way.

We live on a farm and our barn cats are an important weapon in the battle against the field mice. Our feline population ebbs and flows with the seasons. Last winter we were down to only five but this summer we have experienced an increase with several litters of kittens. One little kitten went exploring and managed to fall down between the slats of the horse barn. She was there for several days before my husband was able to get her out by removing a portion of the wall. He brought her to the house where we began “operation rescue” with an eye dropper and Kitten milk replacer. One week later she has moved on to a tiny bottle and is thriving. She is determined to be friends with our black lab but Ms. Pepper is not about to have her personal space invaded.

IMG_7982

It amazes me that this tiny kitten has totally accepted the situation. She trusts me to feed her and care for her. What an example of faith.

Look at those eyes. She has accepted me as her caregiver and follows the sound of my voice.

And seek not ye what ye shall eat or drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.                                                                                                                                                                       Luke 12:29-32  

I have been reminded in this that my Father in heaven knows all of my needs and He will provide all that I need.        I can rest in the thought that He loves and cares for me. I need not be anxious for anything. My God is able!